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Organization seeking donation of shells for noble purpose

By Staff | Mar 16, 2011

Example of the Imperial Purple Spiny Dye Murex.

For centuries, the color purple has been associated with royalty and nobility, stemming from classical antiquity when Tyrian Purple was only affordable to society’s most elite.

And for Daryl Mackin, that same noble status carries on with the color, as well as for the shells from which the Tyrian Purple pigment is derived.

However, the frequent visitor to Sanibel doesn’t just seek out any sort of shell that may wash up on our local beaches. In fact, he might even look past a junonia — if the opportunity presented itself — in order to find another Spiny Dye Murex.

But why, shell enthusiasts might ask?

Mackin, who founded A Soldier’s Child Birthday Foundation back in 2008, doesn’t keep the shells for himself. He gives them to the children of fallen American soldiers.

Photographer Aaron Thompson won the 2007 Photo of the Year for this image of Christian Golczynski receiving his father's flag.

The inspiration for A Soldier’s Child Birthday Foundation came while Mackin was preparing for his own 6-year-old son’s surprise birthday party. Like most parents, he was easily caught up in all of the “chores” required to pull off the birthday celebration.

“I was sitting at my computer at work, where on my wall I have a memorial of Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski. Marc is the son of my neighbors, Henry and Fay Golczynski, and a fallen soldier of the Iraq war,” said Mackin, who lives in Murfreesboro, Tenn. “I also have a very moving picture of Marc’s son Christian receiving his father’s flag. This photo by Aaron Thompson won Photo of the Year. It went all over the world. As I finished typing out my son’s invitations and gave a big sigh of frustration, I looked up at my wall and was immediately convicted in my spirit for my negative attitude. My heart turned to Christian Golczynski, who will never be able to have a party planned by his dad.”

Realizing that so many children of fallen military veterans will never receive another birthday present from their fathers/mothers, who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, Mackin came up with the idea for the foundation.

Each year until their 19th birthday, children of deceased veterans will receive a scroll, sealed with a crown of purple wax. The words of the scroll speak of the honor of the soldier and child, the indebtedness of a nation whose freedoms hinge on the service of that parent. The words explain the meaning of the purple wrapping paper and gold tissue, reminding the children that their parent left a legacy of royalty.

“As citizens of the United States of America, we are forever indebted to the men and women who so unselfishly protect our freedoms,” said Mackin. “It is our objective to communicate through A Soldiers Child to the children left behind that the memory of their parent will not fade away. We want them to know that there are many Americans that are forever grateful for their parent’s sacrifice.”

In addition to the scroll, the birthday package includes a tagged Imperial Purple Spiny Dye Murex to serve as a reminder of their father or mother’s legacy. If the child ever loses that shell, it will be replaced.

“I’ve come to Sanibel before looking for those shells,” said Mackin, who praised the donations coming from the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and several island shell shops over the past few years. “What we’re looking for is people to donate their shells for this cause, because it really does mean a lot for these children.”

Christian Golczynski was the first recipient of a birthday package from the foundation.

Mackin will be arriving on Sanibel next week, and would like to bring back as many Spiny Dye Murex shells as possible. To that end, the Island Reporter will accept donations of these shells to give to A Soldier’s Child Birthday Foundation at our offices, located in The Village Shops, at 2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit K. We will collect these shells through Friday, March 25 at noon.

“We cannot substitute the bond and love of the parent that is forever gone, but with your help, we can show them that we really do care,” said Mackin.

For more information, visit www.asoldierschild.org.